Three new off-leash areas

Tolmie, Westview and Upper MacLure parks get free-run locations

Maple Ridge Council is looking into establishing dog parks.

Maple Ridge Council is looking into establishing dog parks.

Dog lovers will have three more parks to let Rover and Fido run around to their hearts’ content after the parks and leisure services commission OK’d three new off-leash areas for Maple Ridge.

Upper Maple Ridge Park, Tolmie Park and Westview Park all will have areas fenced off so people can let their dogs off their leashes to run around.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan, also on the parks and leisure services commission, announced the locations at Tuesday’s council meeting broadcast online.

“This is a bit of a challenge because unfortunately we’re working with park space that’s been utilized by the community for a number of years.

“We’re just in a situation where dog parks are necessary. People need dog parks but unfortunately we have to go into existing parks and create them.”

Maple Ridge has been seeking more off-leash areas after it had to abandon an off-leash area in Volker Park on 123rd Avenue last summer because of complaints from the neighbours.

But the new parks won’t come with the convenience of doggy bags, used to dispose of the dog waste.

Duncan said the doggy-do disposal bags just cost the department too much, about $27,000 a year. People steal them outright and don’t properly dispose of them. During the surveys, most people supported the idea that dog owners have to bring their own bags.

“The responsibility is the dog owner’s to bring their own bag and clean up.”

Hammond resident Eric Phillips though already had a problem with putting an off-leash area in Tolmie Park.

The Tolmie family gave it to the city for use by families and kids, Phillips told council during question period. Phillips said most people wanted a dog park to go under the Golden Ears Bridge.

“Most people I talk to in lower Hammond are not interested in having a dog park in Tolmie Park just because of the use it has now with the kids and the ball diamond and small children.”

He asked Duncan to ask the parks commission to reconsider. But Read pointed out the dog park was approved and feedback can be given to the commission six months after the parks open.

And Duncan said later that the off-leash area will be built with minimal encroachment on to the ball diamond or toboggan hill in Tolmie Park.

She emphasize that the commission ensured there would be a six-month comment period to get feedback on the new areas.

Temporary off-leash areas were established in the parks last summer as a test run and to collect feedback from neighbours. A total of 104 surveys were completed for the Tolmie Park location and showed that 66 per cent of respondants supported an off-leash area. In Westview Park, 80 per cent supported an off-leash area and in Upper Maple Ridge Park, 72 per cent supported it.

Staff say that the existing off-leash areas are all well used. New signs have also been posted on the parks to remind dog owners of their responsibilities.

Parks and leisure services also will consult with residents on the hours that the parks should be open.

Existing off-leash areas in  Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows are:

 

• Albion Fairgrounds, 105th Avenue, Maple Ridge

• Hoffman Park, Advent Road, Pitt Meadows

• Jerry Sulina Park, 210th Street, Maple Ridge

• North Bonson Park, Blakely Road, Pitt Meadows

Leashes are also optional on the dike trail from the Pitt RIver Bridge to the Pitt Meadows Marina, and from the north end of Harris Road.

Duncan said a goal is to develop a new policy so off-leash areas are developed when new parks are being planned.